Exports can help deliver a bright future for the Welsh red meat industry, as long as a fair deal is struck on Brexit.
Speaking at the annual Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) conference near Cardiff today, chairman Kevin Roberts said there were opportunities for Welsh meat around the globe, with premium markets demanding quality and provenance ‘things that Welsh red meat has in spades’.
“Around the globe, there is a substantial growth in meat consumption by an emerging middle class. If our governments can secure access to those markets, the opportunity is there.”
“Developing existing and new export markets, and capitalising on premium high value segments, will help us get better returns for farmers and processors,” he added.
“We have products that are well placed to compete,” he said.
“They stand for quality in a market where people are well tired of imitation.”
He added there was evidence farmgate prices increased as exports expanded as well as finding markets for offals, skins and hides.
But Mr Roberts warned much depended on the outcome of Brexit negotiations, particularly for the lamb sector.
“All the independent analysis suggests that our sheep sector would be very exposed to WTO Tariffs of over 40 per cent.
“Seasonality and carcase balance mean it’s utterly unrealistic to fully replace lamb exports with increased business in the UK market, even if imports were curtailed.
He added: “We are developing ambitious plans to develop the industry through to 2025 but as we are all aware, there is a potential bump in the road.
“We don’t yet know what trading environment we will get when Brexit takes place.”
He added this meant HCC had no choice but to plan for every scenario.